Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/162

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"avengers of kindred blood," to help them. People in this condition of belief naturally tell hundreds of tales, in which men, stones, trees, beasts, shift shapes, and in which the modifications of animal forms are caused by accident, or by human agency, or by magic, or by metamorphosis. Such tales survive in our modern folk-lore. To make our meaning clear, we may give the European nursery-myth of the origin of the donkey's long ears, and, among other illustrations, the Australian myth of the origin of the black and white plumage of the pelican. Mr. Ralston has published the Russian version of the myth of the donkey's ears. The Spanish form, which is identical with the Russian, is given by Fernan Caballero in La Gaviota.

"Listen! do you know why your ears are so big?" (the story is told to a stupid little boy with big ears). "When Father Adam found himself in Paradise with the animals, he gave each its name; those of thy species, my child, he named 'donkeys.' One day, not long after, he called the beasts together, and asked each to tell him its name. They all answered right, except the animals of thy sort, and they had forgotten their name! Then Father Adam was very angry, and, taking that forgetful donkey by the ears, he pulled them out, screaming 'You are called donkey!' And the donkey's ears have been long ever since." This, to a child, is a credible explanation. So, perhaps, is another survival of this form of science—the Scotch explanation of the black marks on the haddock; they were impressed by St. Peter's finger and